37 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2005
Information technology can link geographically separated people and help them locate interesting or useful resources. These attributes have the potential to bridge gaps and unite communities. Paradoxically, they also have the potential to fragment interaction and divide groups. Advances in technology can make it easier for people to spend more time on special interests and to screen out unwanted contact. Geographic boundaries can thus be supplanted by boundaries on other dimensions. This paper formally defines a precise set of measures of information integration and develops a model of individual knowledge profiles and community affiliation. These factors suggest specific conditions under which improved access, search, and screening can either integrate or fragment interaction on various dimensions. As IT capabilities continue to improve, preferences - not geography or technology - become the key determinants of community boundaries.
Keywords: Globalization, Information Economy, Information Flows, Computerization of Society, Organizational Structure, Economic Impacts, Balkanization, Social Networks
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Van Alstyne, Marshall W. and Brynjolfsson, Erik, Global Village or CyberBalkans: Modeling and Measuring the Integration of Electronic Communities. Management Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=756445